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829 NAS

829 Naval Air Squadron

829 Naval Air Squadron – the Kingfishers – provides the Navy’s Type 23 frigates with the Merlin helicopters they need to operate around the world. We provide dedicated Merlin ‘flights’ – that’s one helicopter, a full complement of aircrew (two pilots, one observer, and one aircrewman) and a nine-strong maintenance team – for the Navy’s Type 23 frigate fleet, wherever they’re operating in the world.

non effugient - They Shall Not Escape

Squadron's Motto

There are five ship’s flights in support of six Type 23s which are equipped for Merlins. A Type 23 and Merlin make a powerful team, but the helicopter is generally called upon to carry out much wider duties – maritime surveillance missions, searching for pirates, smugglers and drug-runners – all of which lives up to our motto Non effugient (they shall not escape).

Our helicopters can also provide support for disaster relief missions, as well as carrying passengers, load lifting and search and rescue sorties.

As with the rest of the Fleet Air Arm’s Merlin force, we’re based at Culdrose, just outside Helston in Cornwall.


Steve Windebank

Steve Windebank
HMS Ark Royal, 814, 750, 824 NAS
Military experience

Cdr Steve Windebank was born and educated in Northern Ireland and joined the Royal Navy in 1987 as Direct Entry Aircrew. After qualifying as an ASW Pilot flying the Sea King HAS MK 5, he joined 814 NAS in April 1990 and embarked in HMS Invincible as part of the Carrier Air Group Conducting deployments which included the USA, Caribbean, Mediterranean and Norway.

In 1992 he joined 810 NAS as a Staff Pilot, responsible for Pilot Operational Conversion Training before undertaking the QHI training course at RAF Shawbury. On completion of his training, he returned to RNAS Culdrose as a Helicopter Instructor on 706 NAS, teaching Advanced Flying Training and achieving an A2 instructor category during his appointment.

In 1995 he was selected to join the Merlin HM MK1 Integrated Project Team (IPT) where he was loaned as a subject matter expert to a number of industry organisations, responsible for the introduction of the Merlin MK1 Helicopter. Later that year he completed both Squadron Command Exams and the ICSC(M) at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich.

In 1997 he undertook a 5 month Operational Tour as the SO3 J3 at the Coalition Headquarters in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Upon return he underwent Merlin Factory Training at Agusta Westlands prior to joining 700M NAS (Intensive Flying Trails Unit); responsible for the development of Merlin Operational Capability, deploying worldwide in order to expand the aircrafts operating envelope.

In 2001 he returned to 814 NAS as the Training Officer initially embarking in HMS ARK ROYAL before ending his tour in July 2003, having taken part in Operation Telic in the North Arabian Sea.

Returning to Culdrose, he commenced Fixed Wing Conversion training prior to serving as the Jetstream Instrument Rating Examiner on Heron Flight and 750NAS. 2006 saw a return to the North Arabian Gulf as SO2 N3 Ops to the UK Maritime Component Commander (UKMCC).

Upon return to the UK he joined the Merlin MK 2 integration team prior to joining 824 NAS as the Senior Pilot and Executive Officer and in early 2008 he was assigned to the Merlin Force HQ as the Deputy Force Cdr.

In 2009 he joined NCHQ as the Aviation Manpower Requirements Officer responsible for setting and managing manpower structures, transfers and promotions within the FAA. Selected for promotion to Cdr in 2011, he returned to Culdrose to take up his current role of CO 829 NAS.

When away from work he splits his time between homes in Falmouth and Southsea and, when opportunities arise, his recreational interests involve a variety of hobbies, sports and charity work including golf, skiing, sailing, racket sports, marathon running and volunteer counselling for a well known national Charity.




Military training exercise Joint Warrior draws to a close
14 April 2014

Royal Navy ships, submarines and aircraft together with NATO partners...

Culdrose sailors ‘humbled’ by visit to Navy’s Great War battlefields
Culdrose sailors ‘humbled’ by visit to Navy’s Great War battlefields
01 April 2014

Personnel from Culdrose have paid homage to sailor-soldiers who fought...

Preparations begin for Exercise Joint Warrior
24 March 2014

HMS Illustrious, the Royal Navy’s helicopter and commando carrier, and...

Merlin Mk 2 tested to the max
17 March 2014

A Merlin Mk 2 has set down on the deck...


Cougar 12


Cougar is an amphibious task force exercising in the Mediterranean. The Response Force Task Group (RFTG) is the Royal Navy’s High Readiness Task Group. It has a number of units assigned to it including a helicopter carrier, an assault ship, two frigates, as well as a Royal Fleet Auxiliary support ship and Commando units, and several Fleet Air Arm squadrons.

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Number of helicopters


Number of ship's flights


Average deployment length

6-9 months

Number of Officers


Number of ratings




829 Naval Air Squadron HISTORY

  • New Squadron, New Battle Honours

    In November they joined the carrier HMS Formidable in the Mediterranean and Middle East, taking part in the hunt for the German cruiser Admiral Hipper and striking at targets in Italian-held Somaliland.

  • In the Beginning..

    Today’s 829 Naval Air Squadron is the fourth incarnation of a unit which traces its history back more than 70 years. The squadron began life in 1940 at RNAS Ford flying Fairey Albacore torpedo bombers.

  • Battle Honours

    Matapan 1941 Crete 1941 Mediterranean 1941

  • Invasion of Madagascar

    Re-equipped with Swordfish and attached to HMS Illustrious the squadron subsequently took part in the invasion of Madagascar in 1942.

  • New Technology

    Stood down in October 1942 it re-emerged 12 months later at HMS Daedalus as a torpedo-bomber reconnaissance unit operating Fairey Barracudas. It first struck at the German battleship Tirpitz in Norway under Operation Tungsten.

  • Battle Honours

    Norway 1944

  • After a 20 Year Absence

    After a 20-year absence, 829 appeared once more in its longest incarnation, assuming its present-day role providing helicopter detachments for the Fleet in 1964.

  • Eliminating Saddam Hussein's Navy

    Before it disbanded in 1994, it operated an asortment of Wasps, Whirlwinds and Wessex, and finally Lynx; the latter helped to eliminate Saddam Hussein’s Navy in the 1991 Gulf War.

  • The Third Incarnation

    This third incarnation of the squadron came to an end in 1993 when 815 NAS took over parentage of all front-line Lynx ship’s flights.

  • Trafalgar Day

    The squadron returned in its current form on Trafalgar Day 2004.

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